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Polanco, and the eager promotion of prospects.

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 03:49 AM
God, I wish the Twins hadn't wasted (one, two?) option year(s).  He looks over-matched, just lost at the plate.  And his defens...
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Game Thread: Twins @ Dodgers, 7/26 @ 9:10pm CT

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 03:21 AM
Having done more than my fair share of minimalist Game Thread Intros, due to trying to do other things, well, i was thinking of joking he...
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Crazy Talk: The Bullpen as a Strength in 2018/2019?

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 02:00 AM
The timing of this topic may be odd since there is a reasoned plea for Falvine to go outside the system for relief help at the moment. I'...
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Article: Twins 2, Dodgers 6: Twins Fall Below .500

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 01:31 AM
For the first time since late April, the Minnesota Twins are a game below .500 (49-50).In one of the longest games in major league histor...
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Article: Twins Minor League Report (7/26): Vargas Homers...

Twins Minor League Talk Today, 01:31 AM
The Twins are finishing up their series with the Dodgers on Wednesday night, hoping to avoid a sweep.A few moves were made on Wednesday a...
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Get to Know: Stuart Turner

Each year, the Minnesota Twins (and every other big league team) invite several players to spring training who aren’t on the 40 man roster. Many of those guys are veteran minor leaguers, but this year the Twins brought in some of their better prospects. Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano and Alex Meyer, the team’s top three prospects, came to camp but were sent to minor league camp on Sunday. One of the other intriguing prospects who was invited to big league camp was catcher Stuart Turner. I had the opportunity to catch up with the backstop moments before he was tapped on the shoulder and asked to go to Ron Gardenhire’s office.[PRBREAK][/PRBREAK]

Stuart Turner was born and raised in Eunice, Louisiana, a town of just over 10,000 in central Louisiana. He said, “Everybody goes to the high school to play football, baseball, or basketball. It’s a community that everybody supports everybody, and I have a lot of love and support from back home and I’ll try to make those guys proud.”

Turner lettered for three years in baseball in high school. He was an All-State player all three years. He then spent two years at LSU-Eunice where he was a two-year starter who led his team to a national championship. He was also the recipient of a Rawlings Gold Glove. Last year, he went to Ole Miss where he hit .374. The Twins made him their third round pick in 2013.

Leading up to the draft, Turner chose not to think about it any more than necessary.

“I just knew that I needed to play ball and help my team try to win a game and everything will take care of itself. God has blessed me with the spot I was drafted in and the opportunity I’ve been given. Just now I continue to play ball and see what I can do.”

He was also named the recipient of the Johnny Bench Award, given each year to the top catcher in college baseball. (See video of him speaking after winning the award) Fellow Twins minor leaguer and 2013 draft pick Mitch Garver was also one of the final three nominees.

“That whole experience. I just try to play ball and help the team with games. With the draft, I was blessed to be taken where I was taken. Same thing with that award. I was lucky enough to receive the nominations and lucky enough to win it. It’s just a blessing. Try to come in and help the team win and to play my best every day and let things fall where they fall.”

Attached Image: Stuart Turner.jpg

Turner is certainly known for his defense first and foremost, and he has had a lot of mentors to learn from throughout his years.

He said, “I’ve been blessed to be with catchers my whole life. My high school coach was a catcher. In college, at Ole Miss, the three coaches (head coach and two assistants) were all catchers. Then to get to my first pro team (Elizabethton) and have Jeff Reed who was a 17 year catcher in the big leagues. It’s kind of like, God continues to bless me and put me in the right places and lead me the right way. I’m just very thankful for that. Reed did a wonderful job with hitters. At Instructs was when I got the most catching coaching from him because he was able to specifically work with the catchers. He was tremendous at what he did.”

Upon being drafted, he went to play for the Elizabethton Twins. In 34 games with the E-Twins, he hit .264/.340/.380 (.721) with five doubles, three homes and 19 RBI. He felt that going to Elizabethton was a blessing for him in that it helped him adjust to the professional baseball game.

“I’m from a small town, so going to Elizabethton was a little gift in disguise. Just not getting overwhelmed right away. The biggest adjustment was playing every day. Even though I wasn’t playing every day, you had to get to the field and get ready every day. I wasn’t used to that. It took some time to adjust to the wood bat, to not being in the lineup every day.”

He also got to catch some pretty good pitchers at Elizabethton last year.

“Jorge Felix and Yorman Landa, they pitched really well for us all year. It was fun to catch those guys. They work both sides of the plate. Then late in the year, Kohl Stewart and Stephen Gonsalves came up and, with those two guys out of high school, their maturity level was really encouraging. I think there’s great things to come for all of those guys. And out of the bullpen, there were plenty of arms that could knock down one, two, three, four innings if they have to. That whole staff was pretty special with the newer draftees, the high school guys, some of the older guys. Everybody just came together. The season didn’t go like we hoped it would, but when everything was clicking, that staff was one to be reckoned with.”

It is pretty rare for the Twins to give a big league spring training invite to a draft pick from the previous season. However, teams need plenty of catchers in spring training because there are so many pitchers. Rob Antony discussed Turner before Sunday’s game.

“Didn’t see a lot of him, but he lived up to his billing that he’s a really polished catcher, and that’s the reason we brought him up here. When you get to the last few guys and you bring in a few catchers, you want guys who will come in to catch bullpens, work hard and get good experience. He did exactly what we wanted.”

Turner certainly enjoyed his time in big league camp and made a strong impression. He received his minor league invite before the holidays.

“It was a week or two before Christmas. Terry Ryan gave me a call, and he told me they traded Ryan Doumit, and they were going to bring me in to help with some bullpens and stuff. Like I said, I’m just making the most of it.”

Making the most of it means, in part, that he has been able to pick the brain of several catchers who have a lot of big league experience.

“I see Kurt (Suzuki) doing some drills, and I ask him what is he working on, and he’ll tell me. Little things like that. Talking with Steiny (Terry Steinbach) about pitch selection. Just the other day, I made a bad pitch call. He came and talked to me about it and explained his thought process. It’s talking to those guys with the experience. It’s so much easier to get some knowledge.”

Those are good things for Turner to pick up, and he clearly takes his role as a catcher very seriously. However, he also wants to go out and show that he is a good hitter and is willing to work to improve.

“I’m a guy that takes a lot of pride in my defense and continue to work very hard on my hitting. That’s what I wanted to do (in big league camp). I wanted to show that I’m a good defensive catcher and show that I’m willing to work, put the extra work in the cages, off the tee, whatever it is. I’ll continue to do that on the other side and continue to do it all summer. That’s nothing different, but I wanted to do to show those guys that I was really willing to work.”

Asked where he thinks he will begin 2014, his first full professional season, he said, “They’ll send me where they think I should be at, and we’ll go from there.”

For what it’s worth, I think he will skip Cedar Rapids and jump up to Ft. Myers and play for the Miracle. However, with his skill set, he could be a fast riser. He won’t be overwhelmed. Turner is smart and understands that it’s all part of a bigger picture. As you can read, his faith is something that is very important to him.

“My parents raised me to believe in my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Without him, nothing would be possible and I thank him every day for it.”

On Tuesday, Turner will report to minor league camp. However, he looks at his time in major league camp as very fruitful.

“It’s been unbelievable. Being able to be here with these guys. The experience, the staff. Everybody’s been there and done that. Just being able to be here and experience it. Seeing how they go about their business is the biggest thing. Getting ready day in and day out.”

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